If you missed the news (or maybe you’re not a fan)… we’re living in two Americas! The most basic example is AFC vs NFC. As people gear-up for the Superbowl, we find folks rooting for one side or the other, Kansas City or Philly. For some, this event is the ultimate ‘field of dreams’ in passion, skill, mojo and thrill. Add-in the halftime performance with a pop culture flava and you’ve got yourself a party!
But there’s something else being overlooked about the two Americas. We saw glimpses in the overwhelming response to Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills after his scary on-field tackle. A few weeks before that was the incident of a New England Patriots fan getting hassled and shouted-at by a Raiders fan, even though the Raiders were winning. The contrast in those two situations was simply one of goodwill vs grievance. Why’s that important? Well, it might point us to lessons from SAIC’s deep dive in American history, the ‘Black to America’ story and #HometownStrong comebacks, that line-up with the Kerner Commission report from the ‘60s about the two Americas.
After a series of social uprisings back then, the commission was created to try and uncover the root causes. They concluded there were two Americas: one of social inequity and the other of upward mobility. Government policies and local programs have made closing those gaps a priority. In some areas though things still seem to fall short. Almost 40 years ago, one of the political campaign slogans from the aftermath was known as “Morning in America”. This was meant to inspire a sense of optimism for bouncing back from high inflation, social unrest and other related issues/challenges.
But SAIC’s deep dive revealed some hard truths that have contributed to this ‘Split-screen America’. It’s kinda like some of the back-and-forth we see in today’s salty partisan climate. These factors seem to hinder how we move beyond social divides based on the following:
- The American journey has always had an altruistic (selfless) side to its story, while battling a despotic (strong-armed) side that’s a divisive force in how things play out (e.g. Civil Rights Act vs Indian Removal Act or Fugitive Slave Act or Chinese Exclusion Act).
- There’s always been an aspect of our social fabric where a segment of white America isn’t willing to grow from diverse ethnic experiences, moreso than black or other Americans who aren’t willing to grow from others’ experiences. (e.g. Lost Cause, KKK, White Nationalism)
- There’s a constant dilemma we face around public service and civics where one’s political leaning or a group’s fundraising might get in the way of collaborating and empowering (e.g. culture war squabbles).
- Oftentimes it seems with civic/social issues that America doesn’t really want a solution, just a fix. A fix gets you by til next time. A solution gets you from root cause to resolution (e.g. Immigration, Police/Community Reform, Universal Background Check).
Basically, there are two Americas where one side believes in the greater good while the other side fumes over grievances that are personal, racial, political/criminal.
As we watch news reports about our current times of inflation, hate & bias, culture wars and more, SAIC’s “J.A.M. With Us” initiative (join a movement) has an upbeat message of “Mojo in America” to make our journeys one (mojo) as we bounce back from Covid. The strategy involves partnering across education, biz, public service and community. This includes those among the “hottest Field of Dreams in America” so that we all have a better handle of hot-button issues, whether cross country or cross cultural. The SAIC programs in civic engagement, social change and community life not only help with breaking the mold and bridging the gap, but also with grinding out the ‘ABC Life’ (American Dream, Biz, Culture). Think about how there are four or five main food groups that provide us with life’s important nutrients. Well, SAIC has its core ‘roots & culture’ content groups along with key nutrients to help folks grow in:
1. Media Literacy
These days we’re bombarded with messages from traditional media, cable news and social media. It’s a lot to ask in trying to figure-out what’s true vs conspiracy. Some come at news from the left, others from the right. Imagine if you had to guess if a person is trustworthy based on whether they’re left-handed or right-handed? No matter what, some basic things should still be centered or true-to-form. That’s where we are in media. The key is knowing no matter which side you’re on, they’re selling some mix of information, ideology, inspirational or institutional content. So, you just gotta stay centered and true-to-form yourself.
2. Smart Civics
There’re three basic colors in your TV: red, green and blue (RGB). They combine for the beautiful picture we see. SAIC takes a page from that technology by combining American history, the ‘Black to America’ story and #HometownStrong comebacks for a better picture of civic/social issues. Plus, we add ‘smarts’ to the mix just like in consumer devices. It’s how folks get to ‘connect the dots’ across history, civics and culture. This turns-on the ‘lightbulb of truth’ for the issues so you’re not deceived by those who’re grifting. It’s like when a store’s security tag turns-on the lightbulb or buzzer to stop shoplifting. That’s smarts!
3. Social Skills/Competency
There’s a growing segment of the public attacking “wokeness”. They’re trying to put a spin or redefine the issues. A flashback in history reveals this isn’t new. Back then it was in how blacks were called the N-word as a form of anti-blackness to demean and dehumanize. Consider folks pushing anti-woke as a cover for anti-black to distract from black achievement and civic empowerment. SAIC helps build social skills/competency by reminding us that if you eliminate one of the three RGB colors, that’s gonna severely affect the picture on the TV set. Similarly, an anti-DEI or anti-Black History move in education or biz will badly affect the picture citizens have of civic/social issues.
4. Culture Cloud
Ever had an alert on your device that takes you to the cloud? It could be a link to a picture from a past event or vacation trip. These days in sports it’s all about what the analytics from ‘the cloud’ reveal on the possible success of certain plays or teams. The cloud brings “faster innovation, flexible resources and economies of scale” to enhance our experiences. SAIC offers a similar benefit in civics that might be thought of as the ‘culture cloud’. Whether in civics education or civic engagement, we deliver content that enhances our experiences out of love for country and the culture.
So, we’re still living in two Americas. Some roll with those on the ‘Field of Dreams’ side of synergy and creativity. Others are found on the ‘Field of Grievances’ side of chaos and cruelty. Let’s get with SAIC and the hottest Field of Dreams in America to live our best life in career and community, whether cross country or cross cultural. Gotta step-up in media literacy, smart civics, social skills/competency and culture cloud. These will feed your civic teams & dreams not out of fear or to inflame more culture wars. But to inform social divides and inspire greater public good for this land that we’ll forever care.
To find out more about how you can “J.A.M. With Us” (join a movement) in civic engagement, social change and community life, checkout the Sign-up Center below. Also, in the spirit of Black History Month, visit SAIC’s Facebook page for commentary on the Tyre Nichols brutal beating in my own “Confessions as a Black Man” here https://facebook.com/seeamericaincolor.
Tracks: Sean Paul ft. Damian Marley and Nicky Jam – No Fear – https://youtu.be/PG999pOsXzI
Aerosmith – Dream On – https://youtu.be/NeSpx7vZifc